By Danny Chan
Dental Boutique is not your run-of-the-mill dental outfit. Awards like the Australian Business Of The Year, Dental Services Of The Year, Health Services Of The Year and Telstra Best of Business bear testimony to their unrelenting pursuit of excellence, while over 1500 five-star Google reviews attached to their Melbourne clinic alone showcase its coveted brand yield.
Remarkably, the husband-and-wife owned dental group has to date, designed and crafted over 30,000 smiles.
No Two Smiles Are Identical
Co-founders and creative directors, Dr Reuben Sim and Dr May Chan, embody Dental Boutique's core principle: crafting unique smiles that express each individual's personality. With locations across Melbourne, Geelong, Mornington, Adelaide, Brisbane, and Sydney, their approach is marked by collaboration with patients, using cutting-edge technology to ensure that every smile is as unique as the person wearing it.
Their success is attributed to a dedicated team of clinicians who genuinely care about their patients' well-being. The environment fosters constant improvement, with colleagues pushing each other to raise their standards.
“When you're part of an efficient and highly motivated team, you're constantly pushed to improve because everyone around you is raising the bar,” Reuben says.
“It’s a self-fulfilling system where there’s friendly competition between clinicians to continuously create beautiful smiles for our patients. It’s a wonderful and nurturing environment to be in.”
Patients are provided with before-and-after images of their treatment, demonstrating the transformation achieved.
“We do this because we want to ensure that our patients are proud of their investment in our services,” May interjects.
From Pain to Passion
May's personal journey, stemming from a childhood accident that left her with discoloured and crooked teeth, inspired Dental Boutique's inception. The brand's mission is to help people overcome dental fears and unlock the smiles they deserve.
When it comes to patient care, Dental Boutique doesn't settle for the status quo. The Sims loosely model their management style after Steve Job’s customer-centric vision for Apple.
“At any Apple Store worldwide, there's a certain level of competency and consistent treatment, whether you're in Spain, Singapore, or Melbourne,” Reuben adds.
“Additionally, Apple holds innovation weeks, constantly seeking to understand what their customers want. This resonates with us because dentistry is a traditional industry, often following a set path outlined in university curricula.
“We believe in finding new ways to improve and raise industry standards and improve communication with our clients. We focus on technology, innovation, and incorporating new ideas into our patient journey for their benefit."
Breaking with Convention
Their emphasis on technology has led to recognition from Straumann Group, certifying Dental Boutique as the first Australasian NeoArch Centre of Excellence. Their unique full arch treatment approach tailors solutions to each patient's needs, utilising top-notch implant systems, including those from Straumann Group.
The Sims prioritise patient well-being over convention when selecting implant brands. Straumann's Neodent implants and BLX implants with Roxolid® material have proven to be game-changers, reducing healing times and ensuring remarkable implant survival rates.
“The Neodent range of implant systems is very user-friendly for clinicians. Its user-friendliness means there are fewer components to manage, which is beneficial for patients. If something does go wrong with the components, which isn’t often, it’s straightforward to order replacements,” Reuben explains.
“The Neodent implant's design is focused on getting the right torque for loading. The tapered approach, screw design, and how the multi-unit abutments fit within the implant provide an excellent fit between the implant and bone, allowing for immediate loading.
“This is crucial for patients who can get their teeth replaced within one to three days. Not all implant systems support this function, so it's a significant advantage for both clinicians and patients.”
The implant's stability in the bone also reduces micro-motion, which Reuben considers a significant factor in implant failure. So, while the procedure duration may not be shorter, the implant's design promotes better stability and integration with the bone.
The journey of Reuben and May, from their humble beginnings in Balwyn, Melbourne, in 2013, is marked by resilience and resourcefulness.
With no budget for extravagant marketing endeavours, the young couple pounded the pavement to distribute photocopied flyers themselves. Intriguingly, their very first patient, lured by those flyers, remains a devoted patron to this very day.
“I'd refer to the first six years of running Dental Boutique as our foundational years, similar to the incubation period for a baby in the womb before birth,” May reveals.
“These years taught us valuable lessons about patient care, running a practice focused on clinical excellence, and treating our staff like family and internal clients.”
This nurturing approach bore fruit in the form of staff referrals, fostering their gradual expansion. They added one more chair by 2015, and yet another in 2016.
Then came 2018, a watershed year that would irrevocably transform their practice. The trajectory of their growth since 2018 defied the bounds of linearity. By the year 2020, their empire boasted an impressive 22 dental chairs in a singular location.
In the interim, the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Victoria fraught with challenges for the young couple – their overriding goal at this point was to retain their staff and sustain the practice. Remarkably, it was the pandemic that prompted the Sims to rethink their expansion approach.
Rather than expecting patients to journey to their practice from interstate locations, which many were doing during the boom years, they envisioned a model where they could expand outward.
Their first interstate venture in Sydney with Dr Hargreave and Dr Kipel started with 9 chairs and quickly burgeoned to 18 within the first 12 months. Today, Dental Boutique has six interstate locations that employs more than 200 dentists and staff. The success is attributed to smart talent acquisition, word-of-mouth referrals, and the brand's intangible appeal.
“I would say that Dental Boutique is an aspirational brand. Patients come to us knowing that regardless of which clinician they see, their experience will be amazing. We designed the workflow and system with that vision in mind from the beginning,” Reuben says.
“We've treated approximately 45,000 patients. The brand itself attracts patients because we have a reputation for consistently delivering an outstanding experience. That's how we've built our practice.”
To commemorate its 10th anniversary, Dental Boutique held a black-tie celebration, coinciding with the launch of the region’s first NeoArch Centre of Excellence. Reuben and May announced plans for more interstate practices, a testament to their continuous growth and commitment to providing exceptional patient experiences.
As they reflect on their journey, Reuben and May take pride in the warm response to their work and exceptional customer service.
“I’m constantly humbled by the warm response to the quality of our work and our customer service, which I must say is truly exceptional. That is why before anyone joins our team, we encourage them to first visit and observe our workflow,” Reuben enthuses.
“This provides valuable insights into how our practice philosophy and patient treatment approaches differ from their previous experiences. It's not just about clinical expertise; it's about understanding the underlying philosophy and workflow.”
This onboarding approach for new clinicians and staff has paid dividends, with approximately 70% of their recruits coming from word-of-mouth referrals.
“To learn that what we're doing for patients is actually impacting their lives to the point where they take their personal time to write these reviews is something that we do not take for granted,” May reiterates their gratefulness for the overwhelmingly positive reviews they have garnered over the last decade.
“With all our Google reviews being genuine and unsolicited, it makes our success even sweeter. The beauty of it is that our entire team takes immense pride in their work, going above and beyond with passion and care, whether it's the dentists, front office staff, or nurses. That's why you see the results you're witnessing.”